"And we are put on earth a little space, / That we may learn to bear the beams of love." William Blake.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

My Spirit Animal

My grandmother bequethed me with my spirit animal, the elephant, and this itch to write. 
I dedicate this to her because it marks my first post-MFA blog project.

grey giants (cc)

Martin Fisch 
grey giants (cc) 
creative commons by marfis756

Old male elephants weep over the corpses of their male companions, I read.
Orphaned bulls go on killing rampages. One incident where a gang of orphaned bulls murdered numerous other elephants resulted after poachers slaughter most adults in a family of elephants, I read.
Poachers hack the faces off these huge animals, leaving hundreds of pounds of flesh to rot, all so the wealthy may enjoyed ivory trinkets, I read.
Elephants never forget, I heard.
Elephnanant, I said. Or I heard that I said when I was still three.
My grandmother bought me soapstone elephants, trucked out the ebony ones her mother sent from Sierra Leone, just to hear me mispronounce the word.
I said libary too, but she didn't drag me to the library, or buy me libraries of books. She read to me from her libraries. My parents read to me from our county libraries. Bushels full of books.
I never forgot the books. 
I doubted I loved the leathery, fat animals. They reminded me of my grandfather's leather hands, his fat flesh. Then I remembered how much I adored him. 
I decided to love elephants. 
Before I knew they suffered. The first time I heard they suffered, my grandmother put the white tusks into the holes of the ebony cow and calf. 
"Are those real tusks, Grandma?" She told me how people prized ivory and traded it. She never explained the gruesome murders of elephants, the waste, how coveting ivory meant creating death.
Elephants. Power. Elegance. 
Almost human, the dolphin of land. Almost moral, certainly interdependent, communal, reactionary.
Last year I saw the first picture of an elephant, one of an almost extinct species, face hacked off, carcass rotting. Splintered for that lovely external tusk, that bit of almost bone.

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